In Hastings with friends for the opening of my show I was wound up and on tenterhooks the whole day - not because of the usual tensions and stresses of an opening but because we came down with 2 sets of people - one of which was East end Bengali, the other East end white. T wears a burka and a headscarf - her choice, based on her interpretation of Islam. Her sister wears just Shalwar Kameez but here, in Hastings, there are very few 'Asians' and a lot of hostility towards foreigners - namely Asylum Seekers.

I spent the day with my ears on high alert for things that could be construed as anti-Bengali, anti-Asian or anti-Islam... and there were loads of the stereotypes being brought out for verification or investigation. It was tiring. I don't know how the sisters found it, whether they were on high alert or whether it's just what happens to them when they leave the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

It ended with an encounter in the petrol station as we left town.
One of those "harmless" encounters.
N, who is white, was talking to T about something they were about to buy when a man came up to T and asked T where the toilets were.

She looked at him like he was wierd and said, I don't work here.

He apologised, seemed a bit embarassed
It was over for him, but I know it will stay with T for a while yet...

<< | >>